Pandemic hiatus at Sydney Opera House set to end with glitzy show – world news

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The finishing touches were being put on a glitzy show at the Sydney Opera House Saturday, as the venue prepared to host an opera crowd for the first time since March.

“The Merry Widow” will open on Tuesday to masked audiences up to 75 percent capacity, in a signal of hope for a performing arts industry crippled by the pandemic, artistic director Lyndon Terracini told AFP.

“Walking back into the theatre was once a very emotional time for everyone involved,” he said.

“I think all the way through this year, other opera houses will be opening very soon and people will be coming back to the theatre with a sense of hope.”

Thanks to Australia’s success in suppressing the virus, crowds within venues — including the Sydney Opera House — have been permitted in the country’s most populous city for months.

But even as the performers readied for their opening night, an outbreak in the city forced officials to tighten restrictions — including a new mandate on mask-wearing on public transport and in many indoor settings from nighttime Saturday.

The outbreak of over 180 cases first emerged in December in Sydney’s northeast but has since sparked other clusters, including in Melbourne.

Areas of Sydney remain under lockdown and officials have suggested further restrictions is also needed to curb the spread — which could include a change to audiences at indoor performances.

Julie Lea Goodwin, who leads the show in conjunction with Alexander Lewis, said she was once thrilled to be back performing but after a nine-month hiatus the uncertainty of the pandemic still loomed.

“I do not know what’s ahead,” Goodwin said.

“I think that Australia is doing an incredible job… but it’s just going to be a process for the next year, I’d say, or longer.”

Australia has recorded over 28,400 cases of the virus and 909 deaths linked to Covid-19 in a population of approximately 25 million.

Top stories/ News / India

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